We are studying John 4:25-42 for Sunday, February 7. This is the second in a series of five studies of New Testament women who do significant ministry. [A few notes on these texts are here.] Here are a few questions that might help us reflect on what this text means for us:
What do we mean by the term “evangelist”? How would we define that term? Why – that is, what’s our source for our understanding of “evangelist”? [We might want to make a list of the various definitions that come up here.]
Would we call the woman at the well an “evangelist”? According to what definition of “evangelist”? What does she do or say that fits that definition? Are there definitions of “evangelist” that she doesn’t fit? What is missing in what she does or says that keeps her from qualifying as an “evangelist”?
What difference does it make whether we think of her as an “evangelist” or not? How does calling her that, or refusing to call her that, affect our thinking about what is going on in this story from the Bible? How does it affect our thinking about what is going on in our church? Or about what Jesus wants us to do where we are?
[I admit, I was prompted to ask these questions after seeing some irate comments on someone else’s blog. The blogger had called the woman at the well “the first evangelist.” The commenter seemed to have a specific church office of “evangelist” in mind, because he kept asking the blogger to show him where in the Bible, exactly, it said that a woman had ever been an evangelist. So thinking about our definitions for that term, and what we think the criteria are for a person’s being “an evangelist,” seemed like something worth doing.]
Can we think about the woman’s communication? Was it effective? How can we tell?
What does she say to her neighbors about Jesus? How does that relate to the conversation she’s had with him? What do we notice about that?
Does she teach us anything about effective communication? What?
In verse 27, when the disciples return, the narrator tells us that they don’t ask Jesus “What are you seeking?” or “Why are you speaking with her?” Why do we think this was important to mention? Is there something we are supposed to notice here, or to learn from? If so, what is it, do we think?
Earlier, Jesus told the woman that the Father is seeking those true worshipers who will worship the Father in spirit and truth (verse 23). What do we think this means? Does it tell us what Jesus was seeking?
Does the conversation Jesus has with the disciples (verses 31-38) have anything to do with the woman? What, do we think?
[We might want to pay some special attention to the disciples’ comment “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Has anyone brought him something to eat, and if so, who, and how?]
It might be worthwhile to list any similarities, and differences, we notice between what the woman says and does, and what the disciples say and do, in this story. We could think about whether there are any implications for us in that pattern of similarities and differences.
Image: “Christ and the Woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well,” John Linnell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons